Did you know hermit crabs live up to 30 years in the wild? So why did our Hermit Crabs only live a couple months when we had them as kids? The number one cause of death in pet hermit crabs is improper care.
As a young adult, I got two hermit crabs from my sister. I was 17, living in my college dorm (1,000 miles from home), separated from my dog for the first time since we got her, and a true animal lover; she thought it'd be the perfect "dorm-warming" gift for me. I technically wasn't allowed to have pets in my dorm, and the pet store lady told her hermit crabs were easy to care for and had a short life expectancy. They were in a small Critter Keeper (basically a small plastic container with small slits for air) with colorful gravel, two dishes for food and water... That was it. I was sad to see them die after just two months of having them.
We'd been had! Hermit Crabs are NOT easy pets to care for and here's why:
1. Hermit crabs need a lot of space. It's a common misconception that Hermit Crabs can be in small plastic containers. In reality they need at LEAST a ten-twenty gallon tank. More space and height is always recommended. A great kit to start out with is the Zoomed Hermit Crab Kit! It's a 10-gallon tank with everything you'll need for a few crabs. Our hermit crabs are in a 23x18x24 inch front opening enclosure with 4 inches of space at the bottom to hold running water for our waterfall.
2. Hermit crabs do well in groups. I don't ever recommend getting a single hermit crab.
3. They require heat. 75 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended temperature for them. This can be achieved with a heat lamp or pad, but overheating can be fatal so managing the temperature can be difficult!
4. They're climbers. In our hermit crab enclosures we have lots of varied surfaces like slate rock, drift wood, cork bark, and grotto rock (their favorite past time is climbing up the grotto rock).
Our hermit crabs cuddling at the top of some rock grotto.
5. They need 70% humidity. This means you should have a running water source or do regular misting to keep it humid. You can also implement the "sponge method" of keeping the tank humid; this is basically keeping a soaked sponge in water, but be careful when using this method, as the sponge gets dirty quickly and will need to be cleaned regularly.
6. Their water needs to be treated just like a fish tank. You must use water conditioner to remove the chlorine. Untreated water can be fatal to your crab.
7. Hermit crabs need a varied diet. A mixture of cuttlebone, for calcium, dried shrimp or plankton, rice/oatmeal (I love using baby oatmeal), fresh produce, and sea salt. Other than this you can hand feed them treats like, boiled eggs/chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables, crackers, nuts, and baby food!
Under the right circumstances, hermit crabs are a pet that could span generations. They're amazing creatures that deserve proper care. So do your research before buying one!